Help us bless the people of Israel.

Friday, June 4, 2021

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Every week, we post seven to ten news stories from Israel with a suggested prayer focus and scripture for each one, guiding readers how to pray for Israel’s most urgent needs. This Prayer Update is also sent to over 18,000 subscribers every Friday by e-mail. Please contact us at intl.office@bridgesforpeace.com if you would like to receive this Prayer Update by e-mail.

Israel Gets a New Government

by Ilse Strauss

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Prime Minister-elect beginning September 2023, Yair Lapid (left), and Prime Minister-elect, Naftali Bennett (right)

Thursday, 3 June 2021 | With 35 minutes to spare before Yair Lapid’s coalition deadline ran out at midnight, the Yesh Atid chief informed President Reuvin Rivlin that he had managed the seemingly impossible: uniting a number of diverse parties from across Israel’s political spectrum to form a 61-seat coalition in the 120-seat Knesset (Parliament) that will serve as the Jewish state’s next government.

“I am honored to inform you that I have succeeded in forming a government,” Lapid reportedly told Rivlin. “This government will work for all the citizens of Israel, those that voted for it and those that didn’t. It will do everything to unite Israeli society.”

The president congratulated Lapid and the rest of the coalition members, expressing his hope that “the Knesset will convene as soon as possible to ratify the government, as required.”

The so-called “change coalition” brings to an end two-and-a-half years of political deadlock—and unseats Israel’s longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after 12 consecutive years in power. Under the new government, the leadership baton first passes to Yamina’s Naftali Bennett until September 2023 and then to Lapid until the end of the Knesset term in 2025 in a rotating premiership agreement.

The 61-seat majority comprises a mix-and-match of right-wing, centrist and left-wing parties, including centrist Yesh Atid (17 seats), centrist Blue and White (8), religious right-wing Yamina (7), secular right Yisrael Beytenu (7), left-wing Labor (7), right-wing New Hope (6), left-wing Meretz (6) and the first majority Arab party to form part of a governing coalition in Israel’s history: the Islamist Ra’am party (4).

All in all, the coalition certainly makes for an improbable alliance, uniting former foes, opponents, allies and those who weeks before had little in common—save for a drive to oust Netanyahu—across yawning ideological divides.

Exactly how the change coalition plans to bridge these divides to reach common ground does, however, remain to be seen. In fact, despite Lapid’s announcement last night, it remains unclear whether the change coalition will succeed in getting off the ground.

The next step for Lapid and Bennett is to schedule a vote of confidence in the new government, which will take place at the next plenum session in the Knesset on Monday, June 7, the Times of Israel reports. During this session, the Knesset speaker will receive the formal instruction to schedule a vote on the new government and have up to one week to schedule the poll, possibly pushing it out until Monday, June 14.

An untold number of i’s must still be dotted and t’s crossed in the next 12 days. Moreover, even though the parties agreed in principle to put their differences aside to lead the country under Lapid’s and Bennett’s premiership, the precarious coalition is shaky at best, backed by an uncomfortably close margin of 61 out of 120 Knesset lawmakers, with each of the lawmakers having the power to bring the government tumbling down.

On top of that, one of Bennett’s Yamina MKs (member of Knesset) has vowed to vote against the new coalition, which means that one of the precious 61 seats is already in question. There is also the possibility that any of the other MKs might defect, shattering the majority and plunging Israel back into the cycle of political uncertainty.

With 12 days to go until Israel’s new government becomes official, all eyes are on Lapid, Bennett and the remainder of the change coalition partners as they seek to resolve issues and form a united front. But those in the know are also keeping an eye on Netanyahu. After all, anything can happen in 12 days.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 3, 2021)

Photo Credit: Bennett: Reda Raouchaia/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Bennett: wikimedia.org

Photo Credit: Lapid: מטה יש עתיד/commons.wikimedia.org

Photo License: Lapid: wikimedia.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for an end to political maneuvering and the installation of the government of the Lord’s choosing. Beseech Him for leaders that have Israel’s best interests at heart and who will move the country forward with strength, courage and integrity.

Scripture

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints.


- Proverbs 2:6–8

Report: Israel Destroys Syrian Army Post in Golan Heights

by Kate Norman

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IDF soldiers stationed near the Syrian border (illustrative)

Wednesday, 2 June 2021 | The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) blew up a Syrian observation post that had been built in the buffer zone of the Golan Heights, according to the military spokesman to the Arab media.

Israeli troops bearing explosives crossed into the buffer zone that divides Israel and Syria and blasted the site—which sat behind the Syrian border but technically within Israeli territory. No casualties were reported.

Lt.–Col. Avichay Adraee reported the cross-border raid in a Twitter thread that included footage of the operation, showing a group of around 20 Israeli soldiers approach the Syrian post under cover of darkness and plant explosives. Then an explosion is seen from several angles.

“For the third time in the last year: the IDF destroyed a Syrian army observation post through which it violated Israeli sovereignty,” Adraee wrote on his Twitter page. “An IDF force destroyed the Syrian army’s forward observation post, which was set up in an Israeli area west of the Alpha Line in the middle of a plateau.”

Syria has attacked Israel multiple times—in 1948, after the modern State of Israel was reborn; in 1967, in the Six-Day War, which is when Israel recaptured the Golan Heights from Syrian control; and again in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Finally, the United Nations and the Soviet Union brokered an agreement in 1974 that established a buffer zone between the two countries, separated by two lines: the Alpha Line on the Israeli side and the Bravo Line on the Syrian side. The buffer zone is located on the Syrian side of the border and is monitored by UN forces, who are supposed to ensure that forces from both sides stay outside of the zone.

The UN observation forces seem to be failing, if Syrian forces were able to establish an observation post west of the Alpha Line—violating the agreement and crossing past the buffer zone and into Israeli territory.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to violate the sovereignty of a country,” Spokesman Adraee vowed. “It will continue to work to preserve the security of its citizens.”

The Syrian Arab News Agency did not mention the cross-border incident, but the state-affiliated agency was likely too busy celebrating the reelection of President Bashar al-Assad. The election was dismissed as a sham by Western media, a mere formality to extend the reign of the “butcher of Damascus,” said to have killed hundreds of thousands of his own people over the decade since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

Iran has exploited the opportunity to establish a foothold in the war-torn country—nestled right along the northern border of Israel.

Over the years, the Jewish state has tried to block Tehran’s establishment in Syria by conducting strikes on military targets—often weapons shipments from Iran—as well as Iran-affiliated fighters. Israel has a longstanding policy of declining to comment on its involvement in the alleged strikes.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 2, 2021)

Photo Credit: Matan Portnoy, IDF Spokesperson Unit/Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that the IDF was able to take action to keep Israel’s sovereign border safe from incursion. Pray that the Lord will protect the Alpha Line, keeping Israel’s enemies out, and beseech Him for Israel’s success in dismantling Iran’s foothold in Syria.

Scripture

I said to the LORD: “You are my God; hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD. O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle. Do not grant, O LORD, the desires of the wicked; do not further his wicked scheme.”


- Psalm 140:6–8a

Incoming Mossad Chief: Despite Potential Deal, Israel will Quash Iran’s Nuclear Dream

by Itamar Eichner

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A nuclear explosion (illustrative)

Wednesday, 2 June 2021 | New Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] Director David Barnea warned on Tuesday that Israel will persevere in its fight to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb, even as it holds talks with world powers to restore a 2015 deal limiting its nuclear program.

“The agreement with world powers that is taking shape only reinforces the sense of isolation in which we find ourselves on this issue,” Barnea said at a ceremony marking his entry into office as head of the intelligence agency, succeeding outgoing spymaster Yossi Cohen. “I say it clearly—no, we do not intend to act according to the majority opinion since this majority will not bear the consequences for the erroneous assessment of this threat.”

“The Iranian program will continue feeling Mossad’s might. We are well acquainted with the nuclear program and its various components, we know personally the factors that operate in it and also the forces that drive them.

“Iran is working, even at this very moment, to realize its nuclear vision, under international protection. Under the protection of the agreement and without it, through lies and concealment of the truth, Iran [is] constantly advancing toward a weapons of mass destruction production program.”

Barnea, 56, joined Mossad in 1996 for an intelligence collection officers’ course and was assigned to the agency’s operations division. Later, Barnea was assigned as the commander of several of Mossad’s operations units, both domestic and abroad.

Between the years 2013–2019, Barnea led Mossad’s Tzomet Division, which operates the organization’s global officer and agent network. During that time, the division under his wing won much acclaim.

Barnea served as Mossad deputy chief from 2019 until he assumes the spy agency’s top office.

He stepped into the shoes of Yossi Cohen as head of Mossad, as the latter retires after 38 years with the intelligence agency. Cohen was seen as a close ally of Netanyahu, who played a key role in last year’s normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

Speaking at the handoff event on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will do everything in its power to counter the Iranian nuclear program, even at the expense of the country’s vital relationship with the United States.

“If we have to choose between friction with the US and eliminating the existential threat—the existential threat is greater,” Netanyahu said.

“The biggest threat we face is the existential threat posed by Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony. “It is a threat that endangers the continuation of the Zionist enterprise, and we must fight that threat endlessly,” he said.

“I said these things to my friend of 40 years [US President] Joe Biden, and I told him: ‘With or without an agreement, we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.’ For Iran is not like the other countries that today have nuclear capabilities,” Netanyahu said.

The prime minister has long warned that Iran’s nuclear aspirations pose the greatest threat to Israel and has vehemently opposed the Biden administration’s current efforts to revive the 2015 agreement to curb Tehran’s atomic activity.

His comments earned a swift rebuke from Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The former IDF [Israel Defense Forces] chief, who is tapped to continue in his role as defense minister in the coalition currently being put together to replace the Netanyahu government, stressed the importance of the relationship with the US.

“The United States,” Gantz said, “has been and will continue to be Israel’s most important ally in maintaining its security and military superiority in the region. The Biden administration is a true friend of Israel.

“Israel has not and will not have a better partner than the US. Even if there are disagreements, they must be resolved through direct dialogue behind closed doors and not in confrontational comments that could damage Israel’s security,” he said.

The defense minister conceded that Iran poses a global threat, but said that Israel maintained its military dominance in the Middle East.

“Iran is a threat to regional stability and world peace. It is a country that generates terrorism and promotes a nuclear program that is dangerous to the State of Israel, even so, Israel is the most powerful country in the region within a 1,500-km (900-mile) radius of Jerusalem.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by Ynetnews on June 1, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Burnt Pineapple Productions/common.wikimedia.com

Photo License: Wikimedia

Prayer Focus
Pray that the world will wake up to the dangers of pursuing the current agreement with Iran. Pray for Israel’s success in hindering Iran’s progress and beseech Him for a strategy that will bring their nuclear ambitions to an end once and for all.

Scripture

Arise, O LORD, confront him, cast him down; deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword.


- Psalm 17:13

First Foreign Tourists Arrive in Israel after More than a Year

by JNS

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Empty beaches in Israel may soon be teeming with tourists again

Friday, 28 May 2021 | For the first time in more than a year, foreign tourists arrived in Israel on Thursday, after the country has vaccinated the majority of its citizens and drastically reduced the rates of COVID-19 in the country.

Israeli Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hakohen welcomed a group of 12 Christian pilgrims arriving from St. Louis.

“You are the first of what I am sure will be many tourists returning to the Holy Land,” reported Reuters. “Israel is…healthy and vaccinated. Everything is now safely open,” she told the tourists, according to the report.

Groups of vaccinated tourists of up to 30 are being allowed into Israel. The Tourism Ministry said about 20 groups are expected to travel under the pilot program that lasts until June 15.

Tourists to Israel must test negative before flying and take a second test upon landing at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The groups will also have to take serological tests to show they have antibodies to the virus, the report noted.

Source: (This article was originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 27, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Pixabay/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Praise the Lord that Israel’s borders are opening for travelers once again. Pray that He will protect every tourist that enters the land from the virus and that Israel will see no increase in the number of infections. Pray that the day will come quickly when Israel will be filled to overflowing with pilgrims once again, reviving the industry, bolstering the economy and continuing to build a global army of spiritual warriors who will pray and advocate for God’s chosen land.

Scripture

You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favor her, yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.


- Psalm 102:13–14

Isaac Herzog Elected Israel’s 11th President

by Yori Yalon and Danielle Roth-Avneri~Israel Hayom via JNS

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Israeli President-elect Isaac Herzog

Thursday, 3 June 2021 | The Knesset [Parliament] elected Jewish Agency for Israel chairman Isaac Herzog as Israel’s 11th president on Wednesday. The vote was conducted in a special session during which Knesset members cast secret ballots for either Herzog or Israel Prize laureate Miriam Peretz.

The previous day, each candidate had arrived at the Israeli Parliament with teams of up to 50 relatives, friends and professionals, who lobbied members to vote for them.

Ahead of the vote, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin reviewed the secret-ballot procedure, while Herzog and Peretz watched the proceedings from a special area of the plenum.

Knesset Secretary Yardena Meller-Horowitz invited each Knesset member, alphabetically by last name, to cast his or her vote behind a curtain. All had the option of casting a white ballot, meaning a vote for neither candidate.

Once the voting was over, Levin announced a recess for the votes to be tallied. The ballot box was taken into a separate room where members of the Knesset Ballot Committee—MK [member of Knesset] David Bitan (Likud), Yosef Taieb (Shas), Emilie Moatti (Labor) and Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid)—performed the count.

The president-elect is not sworn in on the day of the voting. Incumbent President Reuven Rivlin will remain in office until July 9. His successor will be sworn in closer to that date.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Herzog on Wednesday, saying he was following in his father’s footsteps.

“I want to congratulate Isaac Herzog upon being elected to the esteemed position of president of the State of Israel. I told him that he was continuing in the glorious tradition of his father, the late President Chaim Herzog,” said Netanyahu in a statement.

Chaim Herzog, who served as Israel’s sixth president from 1983 to 1993, “represented Israel in a way that inspired respect, even admiration, around the world and within the country,” said Netanyahu.

“I am certain, Bougie [Herzog’s nickname], that you will continue precisely in this manner. On behalf of myself, the government of Israel and—I am certain—all citizens of Israel, I would like to wish you success,” he added.

The Israeli premier also congratulated both Herzog and Peretz for conducting an “honorable race.”

“There were two worthy candidates here, and I think that we can all welcome the choice, and we are all certain that there will be something important and good for the State of Israel here in the Herzog family tradition. Many congratulations.”

Source: (This article was originally published by staff from Israel Hayom and the Jewish News Syndicate on June 2, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Pray for Isaac Herzog as he takes the reins of the presidency in July. Pray for wisdom, integrity, safety and the ability to hear and act on the voice of the Lord as he serves in this new role. Ask the Lord for His guidance as President-elect Herzog carries on a family tradition of leadership and commitment to the Zionist dream. Also pray for President Rivlin as he leaves office and embarks on the next phase of his life.

Scripture

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.


- Psalm 32:8

Hamas Ready for Prisoner Exchange Negotiations with Israel

by Ilse Strauss

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IDF soldiers in Gaza searching for Hamas terror tunnels (illustrative)

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 | Terror group Hamas is ready to enter into indirect “immediate negotiations” with Israel to reach a prisoner swap agreement that will reportedly see two Israeli civilians as well as the bodies of two fallen Israeli soldiers return home from captivity in the Gaza Strip—in exchange for an alleged 1,111 Palestinian convicts released from Israeli prisons, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s Gaza chief said yesterday.

Sinwar made his announcement shortly after concluding a meeting with Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, Maj.–Gen. Abbas Kamel, who is in the coastal enclave to cement a temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas into a more permanent agreement. The Egyptians brokered the truce that concluded 11 days of fighting in May during which terror groups in Gaza fired more than 4,000 rockets on Israeli civilians and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated with more than 1,500 strikes on terror targets in the strip.

The spymaster from Cairo’s get-together with Sinwar comes a day after a series of meetings with senior Israeli and Palestinian defense and political leaders—including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Speaking from a bombed-out Gaza, Sinwar bragged, “Today, by the grace of Allah, after this victory of May 2021, our Palestinian cause is making tangible and clear progress.”

The terror chief continued to boast of “a real chance to make progress” via indirect “immediate negotiations” for a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel. Hamas currently holds captive two Israeli civilians—Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, both of whom reportedly struggle with mental issues— as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers—Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, captured during the previous war in 2014.

In an apparent reference to the number of Palestinian convicts Hamas demands in exchange for the two Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers, Sinwar said, “Remember the number 1,111. What are the details of this number? I can’t say at this moment. But you need to remember this number well.”

This is not the first time Israel will be willing to release a disproportionally large number of convicts in exchange for a few of its own. The last major prisoner swap agreement between Israel and Hamas in 2011 saw 1,027 Palestinian security prisoners—one of them Sinwar—go free in exchange for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 1, 2021)

Photo Credit: Israel Defense Forces/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray for Israel’s leaders as they negotiate this prisoner exchange. Beseech the Lord for His intervention that will ensure the release of Israeli citizens and the bodies of fallen soldiers while keeping Israel from releasing terrorists who will use their freedom to bring destruction and death to Israelis.

Scripture

Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble.


- Psalm 140:1–4

Confronting Anti-Semitism

by Faygie Holt~JNS

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Jewish and pro-Israel supporters standing in solidarity with Israel to protest against anti-Semitism

Monday, 31 May 2021 | Tens of thousands of people logged onto their computers at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Thursday to make it clear that they will no longer stand by as Jews are assaulted, harassed, threatened, spit on and cursed at in public, while at the same time synagogues, Jewish shops and cemeteries are vandalized and desecrated.

“We have threats coming from every direction and taking many forms,” but what unites them is the fact that the Jewish people, individually or collectively or the Jewish state, are being targeted, said David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, during the online rally.

Mark Wilf, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, said, “Anti-Semitism is not a historical artifact, it is happening around us all day. [It] echoes the experience of my parents and grandparents during the Holocaust, and must be confronted head-on…The Jewish community in the United States, Israel and around the world are making a statement today that we will not be intimidated and we will rise to build a better world together.”

The virtual gathering was part of a larger “Day of Action Against Anti-Semitism,” where people were urged to share images on social media decrying anti-Semitism and to contact their elected officials and ask them to take a stand on the wave of Jew-hatred that has swept America and the world. The event was sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League [ADL], Hadassah, Jewish Federations of North America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and numerous other groups.

An example of anti-Semitism in real-time was in play last weekend as Rabbi Chaim Neiditch was walking home from synagogue with his four young children when a man drove by and yelled “Free Palestine.”

It was during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Neiditch, who has lived in Atlanta for 17 years and works with Jewish youth as the regional director of the National Council of Synagogue Youth, thought “it was one crazy person.”

Then he started hearing from other people who had experienced the same thing, but the descriptions of the cars were different. “That made me think this isn’t an isolated case, and that it’s becoming something more,” he said.

He’s not wrong.

According to the ADL, since Hamas launched the first of 4,000 rockets at Israel on May 10, anti-Semitic attacks worldwide have been on the rise. During the week starting April 26, the ADL recorded 59 incidents of anti-Semitism across the United States. That number jumped to 113 for the week of May 17–23.

The hate isn’t limited geographically, as Jews in large cities and smaller communities have reported recent incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault.

In Europe, the numbers are even worse. Great Britain, for instance, reported a 500% increase in incidents between May 8 and May 18, when the worst of the fighting in the Middle East was taking place.

And in Canada, B’nai Brith reported that its anti-hate hotline recorded more anti-Semitic incidents in May 2021 than in all of 2020 combined.

[Last] Monday, US President Joe Biden took to Twitter to address the rising anti-Semitism situation, tweeting, “The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad—it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”

“There is a Moment when You Cross that Line”

Much of what has been seen as fueling the uptick in anti-Jewish hatred globally was the Israel–Gaza conflict. It was met with pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian rallies that often devolved into intimidation and threats aimed at local Jews—threats amplified online via social media, two-minute news soundbites and by celebrities and pop-culture icons who had little to no knowledge of the facts on the ground.

“Under the guise of social justice and the Palestinian movement, people around the world have confirmed what we’ve been documenting for years—hatred against the Jewish people is spreading like fire and now deemed acceptable in many circles, including the radical wing of the Democratic Party,” said Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.org. “Unless those spewing anti-Semitism are dealt with on the same horizontal hierarchy as hatred towards blacks, Asians and other minorities, this will only get worse for Jews.”

Since the start of the Gaza conflict, a groundswell of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic rhetoric has come from the far-left.

“The recent conflict in the Middle East has been used to justify violence against Jews and served as a shield for those spewing anti-Semitic rhetoric online and in the media. But the Jewish community and its supporters are saying ‘enough.’ End Jew Hatred has helped bring thousands of Jews together to protest on the streets and engage in direct actions to ensure consequences for Jew-hatred,” Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, told JNS.

Goldstein said that “the left contributed to this hatred by using a conflict in the Middle East to justify discrimination against Jews based on their ethnic, cultural or religious identity, which includes identifying as Zionist. The Jewish community must unite, shed its divisions over partisan politics and reject the appropriation of our identity for political gain. We must organize from the bottom up, train and mobilize for grassroots actions like other minority groups have.”

Much of it is tied to the idea of critical race theory and intersectionality being applied to Israel, labeling it as the “aggressor” and “oppressor,” and the Palestinians as the “bereaved” and “oppressed.”

For instance, in a statement of solidarity with the Palestinians issued by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has had its own ties to anti-Semitic rhetoric, it noted that “We are a movement committed to ending settler colonialism in all forms and will continue to advocate for Palestinian liberation (always have. And always will be).”

Much of this language was amplified by anti-Israel critics in Congress during the conflict—namely, by progressives such Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), in addition to longtime Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who accused Israel of apartheid and human rights violations.

Rallies across the United States organized by pro-Palestinian groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine and Samidoun—groups tied to the anti-Israel BDS movement—similarly accused Israel of carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Palestinians.

Said the ADL’s Rosemberg, “If you think that you are advocating for the rights of the Palestinian people, but your way of manifesting that is to target a Jew or Jewish institution with an attack or harassment, you stop being an advocate and start being an anti-Semite.”

“It is fair game to criticize the State of Israel [and its governmental policies], but there is a moment when you cross that line,” he continued. “Meaning, the moment you start denying the Jewish people the right to a homeland, there are lines being crossed, and when you see folks confusing ‘Jew’ with ‘Israel.’”

While the numbers on anti-Semitic incidents rose drastically in the last two weeks or so, the fact is that anti-Semitism was already trending upward, according to Rosemberg, who said, “We were seeing a marked increase at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 in New York specifically and in other places, and that upward curve continued into 2021.”

Perhaps nowhere has the anti-Jewish tone been more frightening or vicious than on social media, where, most recently, the hashtag or phrase “#Hitler was right” resulted in some 17,000 tweets.

“The anti-Semitic intimidation and harassment we have all witnessed come across our social media feeds is quite concerning,” said Evan Bernstein, executive director of Community Security Service, a volunteer network of Jewish community members providing security to Jewish institutions including synagogues. “…these incidents across the country and across the globe very much warrant a worldview shift on Jewish communal security. The data from ADL, the FBI, etc., has been telling us that security must be prioritized at the highest levels of Jewish communal leadership.”

Noting that Jews need to step up and help safeguard their institutions in part because they know their communities best, he added, “We need more eyes and ears on the ground.”

Source: (Excerpt from an article originally published by the Jewish News Syndicate on May 28, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock/jns.org

Prayer Focus
Cry out to the Lord for His protection to surround the Jewish people no matter where they are in the world. Pray against the evil of anti-Semitism and entreat the Lord for Christians around the world to lift their voices in support for the Jewish community worldwide. Pray that the nations will take steps to end this scourge of humanity, and ask the Lord to make a way for every Jewish person who seeks to make Israel their home. Also pray for Bridges for Peace as we assist people in making aliyah (immigration to Israel) and in our efforts to help new immigrants become settled and make Israel their home.

Scripture

Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.


- Psalm 9:13–14

UAE Embassy in Israel Officially Opens

by Itamar Eichner

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The historic first visit of an Emirati delegation in Israel in October 2020

Tuesday, 1 June 2021 | With its national flag hoisted alongside the flag of Israel, the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Tel Aviv officially opened on Sunday.

The diplomatic mission, which is located in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building, had until now operated at the rented Herzliya home of Ambassador Mohamed Al-Khaja.

The mission is the first to call the Stock Exchange home, a building that also houses several Israeli start-up tech firms.

Ambassador Al-Khaja has been in Israel since March 1. He did return to the UAE for several days during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas. His wife and four children still reside in the Gulf state but are expected to join him soon.

Al-Khaja, who has already met with a number of Israeli ministers, met on Sunday with Education Minister Yoav Galant for the first time.

“I was happy to meet a partner of the State of Israel,” Galant said on Twitter after the meeting. “I thank you for this important meeting and the willingness to move forward plans for further cooperation between our two countries in the field of education.”

The ambassador also met with Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a senior religious leader in the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, who blessed him and welcomed him to Israel.

Source: (This article was originally published by Ynetnews on May 30, 2021. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our publication today. See original article at this link.)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr

Prayer Focus
Pray that the ongoing development of Israel’s relationship with the UAE will result in great blessing for both nations. Also pray for Ambassador Al-Khaja and his family as they settle into life in Israel. Pray that they will be welcomed and will discover the beauty of the land, the warmth of the people and the faithfulness of the ever-present God of Israel.

Scripture

“And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”


- Leviticus 19:33–34